Mid-Term Report Summary - HOMEOGUT (Immune mechanisms that control the homeostasis of the gut and that are deregulated in intestinal pathologies cancer.)
We have identified a new anatomical structure called the gut vascular barrier (GVB), which resembles the blood brain barrier. Our organism is equipped with a vascular barrier that controls what enters the brain so to avoid unnecessary inflammation. Similarly, in the gut we have a vascular barrier that controls what can enter the blood circulation and reach systemic sites of our organism such as the liver and the spleen. This barrier ensures that even if bacteria, which colonize the gut (the microbiota), accidentally cross the epithelium, are excluded from reaching the whole body thus avoiding systemic infection. However, some bacteria such as Salmonella enterica can subvert this barrier to spread in the whole body and cause infection (the typhoid fevers). We found that the barrier is disrupted also in some patients suffering from liver damage secondary to celiac disease.